Office of the Bishop
Bishop’s Note 10 December 2022
Ø Sunday Supply Dates: February 22 Ash Wednesday, February 26; March 12, April 9*, 21 May, 25 June. *Mercer/Crawford/Erie.
A. Journi is for anyone who feels called to lead in the ELCA. The site was built with the intention of being attractive to an audience under 35, with an interface that was also friendly for those who may be less tech-savvy. With abundant content in various forms, Journi is built for all kinds of learners who are ready to take their next, most faithful step. www.journi.faith/
Through YAGM, young adults will learn what it means to serve in a spirit of accompaniment as they walk alongside global church companions. They’ll become immersed in a new community and form deep relationships. And they’ll confront issues of wealth and poverty, racial privilege, gender privilege, economic disparity and globalization, all through the lens of faith. Learn more at ELCA.org/YAGM.
Young adults will find relevant opportunities for professional experience, including:
· 90 workshops offered over four workshop blocks
· Inspiring and educational speakers and Bible study leaders
· An interaction center with over 30 exhibits
· A celebration banquet for all attendees
· Space to reconnect with colleagues from across the ELCA
Featured guests and speakers include:
· Jeff Chu, co-author of Wholehearted Faith
· The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA
· The Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis, chair biblical preaching at Luther Seminary
· Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, the first female elected bishop of the AME Church
· Deacon Dr. Mindy Makant, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Lenoir-Rhyne University
· Carmelo Santos, director for Theological Diversity and Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement for the ELCA
· Bishop Kevin Strickland, bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA
Early registration (December 1- March 31) is $245. Booking travel and hotel is your responsibility. Once you register, you will be provided with links to the three gathering hotels, with room rates of $153 per night plus tax. A limited number of scholarships are available. Visit ELCA.org/rmg for more information.
Region 8 Events:
Other Continuing Education Opportunities:
A Blessed Advent to you! I hope you will find inspiration in this quote from St. Oscar Romero. “No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need even of God – for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God.”
Here’s information regarding upcoming Kindling Faith continuing education events that you can share in your networks. Thanks for helping us spread the word.
o Visit Gettysburg with your church group! Our facility is a great place for a day outing or a two-day stay. We can offer Bible studies, conversations with the Admissions office, tours of the campus, library archives, and our award-winning museum (https://www.seminaryridgemuseum.org/). In addition, people can take advantage of the many attractions in the greater Gettysburg community (https://destinationgettysburg.com/). See attached flyer to schedule your visit soon.
o Preaching Perspectives from the Middle East, January 9, 2023, 9 am – 1 pm EST via zoom. Log on to meet with Pastors Imad Haddad, Ashraf Tannous, and Fursan Zumot as they discuss the RCL readings for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter from a Palestinian Christian Perspective. These pastors are pursuing their DMin degrees at ULS as part of our ongoing relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. We are blessed to have them in our student body!
o Combating Online Harassment, January 24, 2023, at 7 pm EST via Zoom. The church has an essential role to play in offering alternatives to a toxic online environment. Presented by Lauren Krapf, Esq. of the Anti-Defamation League (www.adl.org ).
Save the Dates:
o ULS Book Club with President Erwin, February 27th, March 27th, April 24th at 7 pm EST via zoom. Dr. Erwin discusses Flowers of the Killer Moon and his perspective on Osage culture in this novel based on true events. The film version directed by Martin Scorcese will be released in May of 2023.
o Nolde/Lazareth Lecture, March 20, 2023 at 7 pm on the Philadelphia campus and Livestream. Dr. Pamela Cooper-White, Dean of Union Theological Seminary discusses her new book The Psychology of Christian Nationalism.
o Our American Muslim Neighbors: Christian Reflections on Islam, March 2, 9, 23, 30 (on zoom) and April 1st on the Philadelphia campus with a field trip to a local mosque with Dr. David Grafton of Hartford International University.
o Spring Convocation, April 26, 2023 on the Gettysburg campus. This year’s theme, “Children of Abraham: Stewards of Creation.”
Registration for these events will be available soon. As always, I welcome your wisdom and insight as to how we can better serve the needs of ministry communities all over the ELCA. Feel free to reach out to me for conversation.
Walking Together as Synod:
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
As we are approaching the Advent season I would like to send you some information about the EKM’s Singing Advent Calendar.
This Singing Advent Calender has become a tradition in our regional church and we feel blessed to share contributions from our international partner churches.
The ELCA-NWPA has also contributed, for which we are deeply grateful!
This contribution can be seen on December, 14th.
The video can be viewed at www.ekmd.de/advent (attention, the link will only work from December, 1st onwards). In addition, the contributions will be posted on the EKM Facebook page and on Instagram ("ekmbilder").
Wishing you a joyful and blessed Advent season, with greetings from Central Germany,
Dr Judith Königsdörfer
Ecumenical Officer Evangelical Church in Central Germany
Lothar Kreyssig Ecumenical Centre
· Tracey DePasquale, Director of LAMPa reports:
+ The 2022-23 Pennsylvania budget included significant gains for education, housing and creation care, and modest increase for anti-hunger programs.
+ A $1.8 billion increase in education funding made strides toward decreasing the funding gap in what has been one of the least equitable school funding systems in the country. The spending plan contained a $525 million increase through the Fair Funding Formula, with another $225 million targeted to the 100 neediest school districts.
+ Among LAMPa’s priorities, the spending plan allocated $375 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding for affordable housing construction, rehabilitation, and repairs. The Whole Home Repairs program will help Pennsylvanians, especially seniors and persons with disabilities, stay in their homes, while also increasing energy efficiency – reducing utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
+ LAMPa had also supported increases in funding for creation care, with a special focus on clean water in light of widespread waterway impairment across the Commonwealth. The budget allocated $884.75 million for clean water, land conservation, parks, energy efficiency and forest investments. This includes $696 million for the new State Parks and Outdoor Recreation Program—formerly known as the Growing Greener program—as well as new funding for clean water infrastructure in the Clean Streams Fund. The budget also increased critical environmental agency budgets by $63.75 million. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Department of Agriculture (PDA), and river basin commissions were invested in after decades of cuts, directly resulting in more staffing and programming.
+ Years of advocacy finally resulted in passage of a law to regulate use of fertilizers by lawn and landscaping businesses in an effort to cleanup our waterways.
+ The budget also included an extra $10 million for disaster response for events not deemed a federally declared disaster.
+ While the hunger budget flat-funded the State Food Purchase Program after recent COVID-related increases, the State Agriculture Surplus System saw a $2 million increase. The budget also contained a $1 million grant to encourage colleges to address hunger. In the fall, Gov. Wolf directed funds accrued during the pandemic toward free breakfast for all school students this school year, helping to counter hardship caused by inflation and the ending of various federal pandemic-era supports for families.
+ In the waning days of the 2022 session, the General Assembly passed, and the governor signed legislation lifting the cap the state’s housing trust fund by $20 million.
In addition to some mixed progress in Harrisburg, I celebrate the signs of new growth among us and look forward to nurturing it together.
+ The policy council, which had been struggling with multiple vacancies, is now almost complete…
+ We held inaugural statewide meetings with hunger and creation care leaders from every synod and look forward to regular virtual and in-person gatherings of those networks, plus teams focused on LGBTQIA issues and housing/homelessness (and possibly AMMPARO) in the new year.
+ Although the environmental sustainability project that was launched at the 2021 Sequanota Summit did not materialize the way we envisioned, there is a promise and progress of continued support, especially in light of the action taken at this year’s Churchwide Assembly moving us toward the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
+ The Homeless Remembrance Blanket Project is gaining interest and an eagerness to participate, which I hope we might turn into lasting engagement and witness in addition to creating the imperative to see that everyone has a safe place to call home.
+ Seeds we have planted with our accompaniment of our partners in LDR appear to be growing and bearing fruit.
+ Once again, LAMPa volunteers contacted every county elections office in the state to learn what support was needed for running the elections. We shared that information with every synod, and to the extend possible, with advocates we knew in those areas.
+ In-person gatherings have yielded surprise and joy that in fact, the church is engaged in this work.
+ Starting with a presentation at our September retreat, we have begun exploring a relationship with the organization Braver Angels as a way of helping us not only foster civil discourse in our work, congregations and communities, but also to help stop demonization.
+ My service with the task force developing the new ELCA Social Statement on government and civic engagement has been deeply meaningful, and I look forward to the upcoming release of rich materials for study and feedback on the further development of the teaching resource.
+ I look forward to celebrating LAMPa’s 45th anniversary in 2024, and am excited that plans are underway with encouragement.
Congregations should elect (see constitutions) Voting Members to the Synod Assembly – June 9-10, 2023 and forward the names to our synod office.
Synod Council Three Year Term 2023-2026
Clarion/Forest/Venango/Warren Conference: Lay Leader
Cameron/Elk/McKean/Potter Conference: Rostered Leader
Crawford/Mercer Conference: Lay Leader
Erie Conference: Rostered Leader
Indiana/Jefferson Conference: Lay Leader
Ø Synod Assembly Planning Team
I will be convening a Planning Team for the 2023-2025 synod assemblies in January (by Zoom). I am looking for lay nominees to serve on the Planning Team. I have a representative from the Indiana/Jefferson Conference. If you know of someone in the other conferences who might serve please send me an email with their contact information. The Planning Team will be looking at a number of topics including themes, pre and post assembly events, dates and locations, etc.
More information will be posted after the first of the year.
Congregations in Transition:
Ministry Site Profile (MSP) Activity Log:
The following congregations’ MSPs are listed based on date of activation:
Please distribute the attached note on my health to your congregations and other communities who have and are praying for me.
Again this week’s Notes are filled with many new things like Journi and links to information from our Companion Synods and PA Department of Health and ULS continuing education events.
It feels like Advent is picking up the pace and quickening towards the Christ-mass. Schedules are tightening and deadlines looming. The end of the year approaches. I am reminded of the words of my liturgy profession as he advised us in leading worship, “Be at peace.” Be at peace dear synod. And pray for peace in our time.
Called to Serve,
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